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Can We Cure Aging?

Age defines the limit to each human’s potential. Simply put, aging makes you less productive and active, and there is nothing you can do about it. This thought has been one of consternation for humans ever since the beginning. Reaching the ‘Fountain of Youth’  has been long coveted, and intense research is conducted in an attempt to extend human life. So, can aging be cured?


The human lifespan today is the longest in history, with humans living up to 120 years. With increased levels of medical methods, human mortality rates have dwindled steadily. We have battled through the plague, smallpox, cholera, and many other death-inviting diseases over the years. Our survival percentage may have increased considerably, but this is not all well and good.

 

A large percentage of a person’s life is spent in being sick and aged. No matter how long the lifespan is, more than a third of it is not spent healthily. This led researchers to focus more on elevating the healthspan of a human, rather than the lifespan. In other words, more research today is conducted to increase the number of years a person spends in the peak of health. This can lead to longer, more healthier lives.

 

According to scientists, the cure to aging is scientifically and practically feasible. Prominent researchers believe that the person to live a thousand years is already born, and is among us in this generation. We are quite very close to saying goodbye to aging.

 

Immortality?


Curing aging does not mean that humans will become immortal. Although immortality might be possible, we do not know what we would do with it. The term ‘cure aging’ refers to just reducing the effects of aging. Aging is when visceral and outer organs wear out, and the body’s vitality diminishes – making aged people susceptible to many diseases. Age itself does not cause death; it simply makes organs less functional. So when we cure aging, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve made ourselves immortal.

 

Senescent Cells


Just as any big question, the question of aging has diverse answers to it. One of the answers lies in the senescent cells in our body. Right off their name, these cells are the ones which do not die even after their functional period ends. It’s safe to say that  they behave like zombies. The older you get, the more senescent cells your body will have. These cells stay among the good cells and damage them as well, causing diseases like kidney failure.


Most cells have a particular protein that tell them when they have to die. Senescent cells are those which lack the protein. In a study done with mice injected with this protein, scientists saw that the zombie cells were destroyed – making the mice healthier with a slightly increased lifespan. Human trials in this area are to start pretty soon.

 

Pills


Having anti-aging pills sounds like the easiest way to solve this issue.
NAD+ is a natural co-enzyme in the body that reminds cells to take care of themselves. As we age, production of NAD+ becomes stunted. The lesser “reminders” there are, the lesser our cells take care of themselves.


Scientists injected mice with a substance that enters their cells, then combines with structures inside the cell to produce NAD+. The mice were seen to have better activity and even showed a little increase in their lifespans. This substance will soon be tested out on humans using pills. However, this has a bigger chance of not working out, as most studies done on mice do not reflect the same way in humans.

 

Semi-Immortal Cyborgs


Cyborg
may be a fictional comic character, but scientists are seriously considering the idea of cyborgs to be the solution to the aging problem. Failing organs can be replaced to make mankind cybernetic organisms. SynCardia is a company that has successfully created artificial hearts which are now beating inside of thousands of people across the world. The future could very well have real cyborgs.

 

The Avatar Project


The Avatar Project is part of the
2045 initiative and aims to upload our minds to a robotic ‘avatar’. Albeit sounding bizarre, the project has a very well planned layout. The project’s vision at the end of five years is to transfer the brain of a person at the end of his life into an artificial body. Within the next fifteen years, the project aims at transferring the personality of a body to an artificial brain of an avatar. With the coming of such technology, one huge question looms- will that still keep us human?

 

Avatar Project Roadmap

 

Build Better Humans


Researchers are closely studying the human genome to figure out the sequence that is responsible for aging. This could enable them to redesign the human body at the genetic level, putting an end to aging. Many believe that
CRISPR could be a potential tool to edit the genes at a molecular level, but the safety of such procedures remains to be a big question. Moreover, this entire gene editing business has ethical issues tailing them.


Whether these methods will be successful in giving us our Utopian imagination of a non-aging society is still questionable. Even if these methods prove to be successful, environmental effects have a huge role in deciding longevity. The cure to aging lies in every domain – biological, environmental and ethical.  Notwithstanding, we are now closer to ridding humans of aging than we have ever been.